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Tips for Writing Sympathy Cards

There is something special about receiving a card that tells us someone cares during a difficult time.

Sending sympathy cards is a simple and thoughtful way of us sharing a few kind words to those that need them the most. It’s something we can do in a situation wildly outside of our control. Here are some of our tips on how to approach writing a sympathy card.

  • Avoid using clichés, instead write from the heart. If you don’t know what to say, be honest and say that – you’ve still reached out and shown that you care. Quoting clichés can sound less genuine and some, like “time heals”, can be more infuriating than helpful.
  • Avoid any sentence that contains the phrase ‘at least’. Whilst it’s often said to help the person see the good that remains, it tends to feel like their pain is being invalidated and often causes people to feel lonelier or even angry instead.
  • Be specific about the help you are willing to offer. None of us like asking for help, but it’s a lot easier when someone’s offered to help with specific aspects such as cooking, childcare, a shoulder to cry on etc. Similarly, please don’t offer help if you know you don’t have the capacity in your life at the moment to follow through with it.
  • Don’t assume you know exactly how they feel, even if you’ve had a similar loss. Grief is as unique as each of us, so whilst we can have a good idea of what someone might be feeling, assuming that you know exactly often isn’t helpful.
  • Feel free to share a fond memory of the person that has died, but be aware it might be too much for the bereaved to read straight away. It’s still a great gift as it shows them that their loved one is remembered, and that other people will miss them too. It’s just that even the happiest memories can feel bittersweet when that person is no longer with us.
  • If in doubt, draft your message out first on a scrap piece of paper, often wording can feel different in our head to when it’s written on paper.

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